Are these the words of a man who had no idea about claiming to be God?
The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’]? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. John 10
Did Jesus claim to be God?
We have four separate written records by first and second hand witnesses to Jesus’s life on Earth. These are the written accounts of people who lived with Jesus for approximately three years, day in, day out. What Jesus had to say for himself as well as what those he encountered had to say about him; what he did before these witnesses, is recorded for us.
These are highly reliable historical documents by any measure. They were written by eyewitnesses, or by second-hand witnesses by gathering first hand accounts from eyewitnesses. They were written very soon after the events. We have multiplied many more early copies of Biblical scriptures than for any other ancient documents. The various copies do not contradict each other or what we have in our modern Bibles; they are remarkably consistent.
What this testimony tells us is that while Jesus went about doing good, preaching, and performing miracles, he was also proclaiming that He was God. Jesus did nothing but tell, teach and demonstrate it. Literally everything he did and said announced the truth that Jesus was God.
Which God? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I Am, The Alpha and Omega, among many other titles. He liked often to call himself Son of Man. It is a name full of meaning…to call himself Son of Man was to claim to be God become a man; Almighty holy God affectionately identifying with his created people.
The passage above is just one of several passages where Jesus explicitly describes himself as God. He was constantly identifying himself as God.
Isaiah 9:6 is rather interesting. It is recognized as a most obvious prophecy predicting the Incarnation of the Messiah, and it is universally applied to Jesus Christ:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Among other not-regular-guy names, Jesus is called “Everlasting Father.”
To call oneself The Son of God was claiming to be God. To allow oneself to be lauded as The King of The Jews was to claim to be God on the Throne.
How could Jesus hide his identity? Here was a being fully man, yet fully God: The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…
From the accounts, we see that virtually everyone he encountered understood what he was saying about himself. By his works, which were visible announcements that he was the one prophesied about; or by his words, which testified to his authority to teach rather than comment upon Scriptural teachings, everyone…everyone recognized who He was claiming to be.
We’re not talking about movie-Jesus recognition. People did not recognize him by his dreamy blue-eyed, trance-inducing stare, or by the heavenly aaaah voices on the soundtrack. Jesus’ contemporaries had a context (that we do not) which was needed to recognize the claims he was making. Rather, to understand the significance of the things he said and did in the course of being who he was.
The woman at the well, a Samaritan foreigner , recognized Jesus’ qualifications to be acknowledged as the Messiah. (John 4) Mary and Martha recognized very early in his public ministry, before his disciples did, that he was the promised Messiah. (Luke 10; John 11) Mary had anointed him for his burial while the disciples were still just figuring out who he was.
For many, the recognition was not welcome. The Pharisees, for instance, completely understood that this man was checking off every single item on the checklist of Signs of the One We Are To Look For.
Yet they did not give him his place. They plotted to remove him, and saw to it that he was eliminated. How does that make sense? “OK, here’s the Messiah promised by the True God, the God of our fathers, the Omnipotent, Omniscient One… He’s threatening our authority; let’s kill him!” It doesn’t make any more sense in the parable Jesus told about it. See Matthew 21: 33-45; after Jesus tells the story of the wicked vinedressers who kill the son of the vineyard owner in order to inherit his property, they recognize themselves by their intention. “Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.”
And his claim to be God was exactly what got him killed. In the above passage, the ruling religious authorities of the Jewish nation clearly plot to have him killed because he claimed to be the Messiah; some would say because he was the promised Messiah.
And how about this one? John 8: 57-59:
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
The Pharisees wanted to kill him there. Why, if he was not calling himself God?